The importance of tooth care has long been a recurring theme of kids’ books, and such luminaries as William Steig (1982’s Doctor DeSoto) and Mercer Mayer (1990’s Just Going to the Dentist) have alleviated young readers’ anxiety about dentistry in fun, illustrated works. Here are a few more entertaining tales for tots about teeth, all recommended by Kirkus Indie:
Brushalot (2017) by Ian Wilms, illustrated by Natalia Starikova-Abud, offers readers lessons about dental health in an imaginative fantasy that pits the Tooth Fairy, her sibling Sir Brushalot, and his Knights of Floss against Prince Plaque and his Tartar Troopers, who attack the Pearly White City thrice daily. Kirkus’ review notes that the “ongoing battle between plaque and brushing has never been so much fun.”
Registered dental hygienist Rachel Grider and illustrator Summer Morrison’s Smile picture-book series offers clever takes on molar maintenance. The first entry, If the Dentist Were an Animal (2018), wonders how a dental appointment would differ if the DDS were, say, a turtle (“I’d bring a book to pass the time. / A turtle’s always slow”) or a lion (“I’d run away and hide!”). The young narrator eventually reveals that dentists are “just like you and me” and have good advice about brushing, flossing, and nutrition. Our reviewer calls the book “delightful, reassuring, and informative.”
In the series’ second installment, Where, Oh Where Did the Tooth Fairy Go? (2020), the titular fairy seems to have gone missing. It turns out she’s just exhausted because unhealthy teeth weigh so much more than healthy ones—due to all the “sugar bugs, plaque and / leftover food.” The children resolve to “brush better” and “floss too” to help her out. The book “links healthy habits to rewards in a kid-friendly, nonscolding way,” per Kirkus’ review.
David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.